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FBI searches car at airport in anthrax case

Spokesman: Raid outside Pittsburgh finds no threat


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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Bioterrorism
Steven J. Hatfill

(CNN) -- FBI agents searched a car in an airport parking lot outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Saturday in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The car was parked at Connellsville Airport, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, FBI spokesman Jeff Killeen said. He said investigators at the scene concluded there was no threat to the public's health.

The search follows another one Thursday by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Three homes were searched in New York and New Jersey belonging to Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, a physician with a background in bioterrorism research.

An FBI spokesman would not confirm the identity of the car's owner or whether Saturday's search was related to the other searches.

Five people died from anthrax exposure in a string of attacks that began in September 2001, when the nation was already gripped with fear and mourning after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Letters containing anthrax were mailed to two U.S. Senate offices, television network news offices in New York and a tabloid newspaper in Florida.

Despite an intensive investigation, no one has ever been arrested in connection with the mailings.

As of late May, investigators had interviewed more than 5,200 people and issued nearly 4,500 subpoenas, according to the FBI. They had also conducted other searches, including draining a pond near Frederick, Maryland.

Tests of soil samples taken after the draining yielded no evidence of anthrax. The pond is about eight miles from the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, where researcher Steven Hatfill once worked.

Hatfill has been named a "person of interest" by the FBI in the anthrax case but has maintained that he had no involvement.

Last August, Hatfill filed suit against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and FBI, saying his constitutional rights were violated. In May, a judge granted the government more time to prepare its case. (Full story)

The search of Berry's homes points to an apparent shift in the investigation.

Berry is the founder of an organization to instruct emergency personnel on responding to biological, chemical or nuclear attacks. He was arrested Thursday on domestic abuse charges in New Jersey after police received a 911 call about a fight at a motel.

He was later released on $10,000 bond.

In September 2001, shortly after the anthrax attacks began, Berry filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a patent on a system to identify chemical and biological agents.


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